IBM making noise in voice-over-IP market

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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. - IBM's Networking Hardware Division apparently doesn't believe that integrating SNA and IP is enough -- the group is also looking to help customers run voice over their IP networks.

The company plans to attack the voice-over-data market by adding support for voice traffic to its existing access devices, routers and other gear, IBM officials say. The support will come in the form of new adapter cards and common code upgrades to be delivered over the next 12 months.

Converging voice and data traffic onto the same network can save customers money and simplify net management, proponents say.

IBM officials expect the market for voice-over-data products to be worth as much as $2 billion over the next three years, and the company wants a piece of the action.

The company has obtained H.323-based voice-over-IP technology through its acquisition of Databeam. The technology will be implemented into the software running on IBM's 2216 SNA/IP routing devices, 2212 access products, 2210 IP routers and other products.

Under an agreement with Nuera Communications, IBM has also acquired technology needed to deliver voice-over-data modules for its various network devices. The modules will be available later this month and can be used for running voice over frame relay. Later this year, IBM will use the same modules for voice-over-IP traffic.

IBM's voice-over-data products will largely be aimed at enterprises looking to run voice over data networks extending to remote offices, says Ron Suciu, a marketing manager at IBM.

The company also plans to integrate any new voice-over-data technologies with existing IBM policy and bandwidth management technologies. Such management technologies can be used to give voice traffic priority over less delay-sensitive traffic.

IBM is not eyeing the market for big convergence devices designed to run in carrier networks.

However, the company plans to provide voice/data boxes to service providers under OEM agreements. The providers will then install the boxes at customer sites as part of managed service offerings.

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